SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 12, 2013

Peabody, Salem city plows battled snow ... and fire

BY TOM DALTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — For city snow plows, the Blizzard of 2013 was a weekend of fire and ice.

One plow was destroyed in a blaze and at least three caught fire during the weekend storm that dumped 2 feet of snow on the North Shore.

“We had a couple of city trucks that had small fires,” said Robert Langley, director of the Department of Public Services in Peabody.

One Peabody plow was “fully engulfed” Friday night at Lowell and Goodale streets, according to Peabody police.

Another fire was reported earlier that evening on Bartholomew Street, police said.

Both vehicles had to be taken out of service.

Salem had two incidents, the most serious Friday night on Scenic Terrace, when a city plow was totaled. The Fire Department had to call a second engine to put out the fire.

In a separate incident early Saturday morning at Mack Park in Salem, a fire extinguisher had to be used on a smoldering city plow.

“Most of these are older trucks,” said Ron Malionek, the assistant director of the Department of Public Services in Salem. “You’re pushing and pushing, and overheating.”

The fires may have been caused by leaking transmission fluid, Malionek said.

The Peabody fires appeared to have been caused by fluid or electrical problems. “We’re trying to determine that,” Langley said.

Although plow fires are rare, the risk increases in big storms with heavy snowfall, officials said.

“We were lucky this time,” said Michael Collins, the commissioner of Public Services in Beverly. “We didn’t burn anything up.”

Tom Dalton can be reached at tdalton@salemnews.com.